Green leadership: Arthur Shaw or Martha Turei

When it comes to Green Party leadership voters don’t know whether they are Arthur or Martha.

The Greens seem to have faded lately. It’s not for lack of trying, their campaigning continues unabated, but the media has been giving most attention in politics to the Barclay, and to Winston Peters and Shane Jones. And to a lesser extent Labour’s intern issue.

The Greens are good at churning out their message but that doesn’t often attract headlines. This may be one reason why they typically get less votes than they poll – at the business end of a campaign they are not controversial enough or headline grabbing enough to interest the media, so they slip in visibility.

James Shaw did get a mention yesterday after a speech on immigration – see James Shaw: “Migrants are not to blame…”

But this has got nothing like the attention Peters gets on immigration, or Labour gets on immigration. Shaw talked against populist rhetoric:

The Greens were deeply concerned that populist politicians were preaching a xenophobic message and his comments were an attempt at a more evidence-based approach.

Research commissioned by the Greens had indicated that immigration settings would be best if tied to population growth.

“Because the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric.”

The Greens were “mortified” because their ambition was to be the most migrant-friendly party in parliament, he said.

“I am sorry for any effect it may have had on your communities.”

However apologising, and sounding thoughtful and caring, is not a headline grabber or a vote grabber.

It is noteable that Shaw has tried to differentiate from NZ First and Labour on immigration -an interesting tussle for the best of the test party is developing between these three, as Greens and NZ First try to claw into Labour’s territory.

But this is unlikely to be noticed by most voters.

Greens have a campaign dilemma, again – how to be heard amongst the noise. Being nice and sensible tends to not be very popular.

One fundamental problem they have is their shared leadership. Voters tend to base their decisions on style of leadership and perceptions of strength of leadership, and by deliberate design the Greens have neutered themselves.

Another problem they have is their decision by membership when it comes to coalition options. It sounds like a jolly good way to do inclusive democracy, and has helped the greens grown into a 10% party, but it weakens to perception of leadership.

If you want to be seen as a leading party I think you leadership has to be seen as leading, not deciding by committee.

It will be difficult for the Greens to change this, so they may have to get used to being a support party rather than a potential opposition leader or coalition leader.

When it comes to crunch time in the campaign many voters aren’t sure whether the Greens are Arthur Shaw or Martha Turei.


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 2, 2017

    Hooten has an NBR column this week on how the Greens have managed to make themselves irrelevant by fixating on far Left policies and strategies that leave them tied to Labour and dependent on it while at the same time wrakening Labour with their formal tie up which just plays into Peter’s hands.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 2, 2017

      Suffering from G’s proofreading disease on FWPh. Weakening and Peters’

      • Pete Kane

         /  July 2, 2017

        Shaw reminds me of Private Pike.

      • Gezza

         /  July 2, 2017

        May be able to assist you with the proofreading disease. A lot of personal experience in this area of human behaviour. My consultations are free, Sir Alan.

  2. chrism56

     /  July 2, 2017

    Australian Green party has the same sort of problems, but there it has broken out into open warfare:
    In NZ I think the watermelon/ tree tory split is about 11/3

  3. Brown

     /  July 2, 2017

    “Being nice and sensible tends to not be very popular”.

    The Green problem is that they are not sensible. Shaw, despite his supposed real world experience, is as deluded as any of them.

    • adamsmith1922

       /  July 2, 2017

      Absolutely. In recent times they have been vitriolic – Turei being main offender, especially re National – and irrational. Shaw only seems reasonable against comparison with his seriously deluded colleagues.

  4. Corky

     /  July 2, 2017

    Interesting times for the Greens post election. Will a splinter Green Party form, made up of Greenies dismayed by their main party moving away from core values?

    Will the Greens knife Martha Turei? An impediment for the Greens in my opinion.

    Will the Greens go back to core values should they have a poor election showing?

    Or, worse. A similar election result to the previous one makes the party implode. They have tried everything, and it dawns on them ( finally) the promised land will never come. They are a quaint side-dish for voters. They become rudderless and just go through the motions.

    Or, worse worse. They do a Lions and win some political power. May Gaia protect us.

    • Gezza

       /  July 2, 2017

      They’re going to be interesting to watch on election night. This is not the party of Jeanette & Rod imo. They are targetting the younger vote market, but I couldn’t guess how many young people will be idealistic enough to vote for them.

      • Brown

         /  July 2, 2017

        Step daughter is tempted by the Greens but there’s no idealism behind that – she’s simply ignorant and that is why we are having to pay someone to fix her head space. I’m taking her to Hong Kong for a week – what the heck was I thinking! She will love it because her principles will be sidelined while having fun.

        • Gezza

           /  July 2, 2017

          What on God’s good earth does paying someone to fix her head space so she won’t vote Green involve?

  5. PDB

     /  July 2, 2017

    PG: “This may be one reason why they typically get less votes than they poll – at the business end of a campaign they are not controversial enough or headline grabbing enough to interest the media, so they slip in visibility.”

    I suggest the main reason they end up with less votes is that many of the people polled (especially young) say they’ll vote Green but don’t bother to vote on election day because they can’t be assed.

  6. Zedd

     /  July 2, 2017

    methinks the Greens ‘problem’ is that they talk from the left, BUT increasingly LOOK like they are trying to appeal more, to the Right ?!

    I still remember Ras-Nandor’s comment (before he stood down) when asked if the Greens are ‘left or right wing’ He said ‘Neither, we are ‘GREEN-wing’…” unfortunately that seems to have been, somewhat lost, in recent times 😦

    Environmental issues, dont need to be seen as one side or other, but their ‘social justice’ issues are definitely being seen as more as ‘left’ ??

  7. sorethumb

     /  July 2, 2017

    The Greens are globalist and with that comes the fantasy that numbers (population) doesn’t matter. They will tentatively pop out a population policy occasionally that postulates a moving horizon and then put it on the back burner saying “see the reaction – it’s electoral suicide” while being in your face on other issues.

  8. sorethumb

     /  July 2, 2017

    “It would also be racist to try to dictate family size, given that the various ethnic groups in our society have different birth rates.
    “However, it would be quite wrong to take from this that we are asking parents to have less kids,” Mr Locke says.
    “It is anathema to myself – as it is to the Green Party – that any person should interest themselves in the right of any one to choose how many children they have,” said Mr Locke.
    But what about welfare entitlements and state housing?

    Anti-immigration feeling has no place in the Green party Immigration and Population policies released today, Green MP Keith Locke says.

    “Our policy is the opposite of Winston Peters’,” the Party’s Immigration Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

    “We have no fear of migrants. The Green Party says ‘Welcome Home – this is your country now’. Our welcome extends to the families of new migrants. The Green Party policy is fundamentally humanitarian, not exclusionary like Mr Peters’.
    Personally I favour a big high fence around the country.

  1. Green leadership: Arthur Shaw or Martha Turei — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition